(GK: Garrison Keillor; TK: Tom Keith; SS: Sue Scott: TR: Tim Russell)


GK: Our sound-effects man, Mr. Tom Keith, is with us tonight.
TK: Thank you. (ACKNOWLEDGES APPLAUSE)----- Of course I'm with you. I'm in the show. You pay me to be here.

GK: Well, I know you're busy. With your farm. And I know you've been with the show so long that probably you take it for granted.

TK: Of course I don't.

GK: Probably you hear those ovations you get for doing chickens and elk and helicopters and you're bored by the adulation.......

TK: I'm not. Absolutely not.

GK: Tom got in trouble with the censors here at Minnesota Public Radio ---- he did some sound effects that were judged not appropriate for children ----- a story about a kitty cat (MEOW) who was on the train trestle two hundred feet above the roaring waterfall (WATERFALL). The kitty's ankle was caught between the ties (MEOW) and of course the Fast Mail was coming along (DISTANT WHISTLE) and there was the kittycat trapped (MEOW) and mist rising from the waters below (WATERFALL) and the censors made us stop the train (TRAIN BRAKES, SCREECHING, LONG STOP) and get the kitty cat's foot out from between the ties (MEOW) and unfortunately the result of this act of censorship was that we dropped the cat (MEOW, FALLING, FADING) into the watery cataclysm below, and into the boat of a kindly but deeply disturbed fisherman (MEOW, BUMP) ----

TK: Oh. A kittycat. I've always loved kittycats. Well, you're safe now. Hehhehhehheh. ---

GK: That was the effect of censorship. You see, if we'd been allowed to do the story our way, the kitty cat trapped in the railroad ties (MEOW) as the Fast Mail approached (DISTANT WHISTLE) would have been grabbed by an owl flying overhead (OWL CRY, MEOW) and he'd have seized her in his talons and carried her (MEOW) to his pea-green boat with plenty of money and they'd have sailed away for a year and a day to the wood where the Piggy-wig stood, and they'd have been married and so forth, but thanks to the censors, the kitty cat was dropped (MEOW, FALLING) into the boat with the demented fisherman.

TK: Yep, you're in safe hands now. Yessir. Old Bob's got you. Heh heh heh heh. I love kitty cats. (MUSIC BRIDGE)
GK: Tom got in trouble with the censors for that, and also for some heavy breathing he did on the show.......(TK HEAVY BREATHING, JOYOUS CRIES).......which our censors thought was a little suggestive for a young audience......could we hear that again? Rewind that tape. (REWIND) Let's listen to the heavy breathing Tom did. (TK HEAVY BREATHING, JOYOUS CRIES) Well, I don't know. To me, it just sounds like a guy who enjoys his work. But what do I know?
GK: Tom is a farmer, raising free-range ostriches (SFX, RUNNING PAST) and free-range chickens (CHICKEN RUNNING PAST) and his free-range trout (SFX) and sometimes those chickens ranged pretty freely and they got into karaoke bars (CHICKEN SINGING) and Tom had to come and collect them (CHICKEN SINGING AT HIGH PITCH) and lock them up, for their own good (SERIES OF LOCKS), and put them on tranquilizers (CHICKEN, RELAXED) and then of course they weren't free-range chickens anymore, and animal rights activists came and surrounded the farm (ANGRY MOB) and they fired off a barrage of damp sponges (MORTAR, FLIGHT OF SPONGE, SPLAT. REPEATS.) and one of the sponges hit Tom's farmhand Lars (TR SWEDISH, SPLAT OF SPONGE) and who knows how these things happen, but he went berserk with a chainsaw (CHAINSAW START AND REV),
GK: ...though it's hard to tell with Swedes, when they go berserk, they do it so calmly (TR SWEDISH), but he ran around cutting down fences (CHAINSAW, CREAK, CRUNCH, AND FALL) and all of the elk (SFX) and wapiti (SFX) and caribou (SFX) and peekabou (SFX) got loose and Lars was heading for the house to cut down the porch when Tom got back from a show in, I think it was October 13-----
TK: October 20.
GK: No,it was the 13th.
TK: That was the 20th.
GK: No, it was the 13th. He was here.
TK: It was the 20th.
GK: Whatever. It's not important.
TK: It was the 20th.
GK: It doesn't matter. He was getting back from a show...
TK: On the 20th.
GK: The 13th or the 20th...
TK: The 20th.
GK: And he was in his private helicopter (CHOPPER) and he came in low over the trees and there was all this destruction and desolation and (BIG SPLASH) he landed in the trout pond and had to swim to shore through a lot of panicky trout (FISH FLOPPING, SPLASHING) and he had to get out the tranquilizer gun and (GUNSHOT) shoot Lars with a hypodermic (POP) and calm him down, though it's hard to tell with Swedes whether they're tranquilized or hysterical, they sound much the same (TR SWEDISH),
GK: ...and then he had to calm down the chickens (CHICKEN FAST CLUCKS) and quiet down the rooster (CROW) and get the elk to go to sleep (ELK SNORING) and he had to get the pickup out of the snow (TIRES WHINING, THEN TRACTION, THEN SQUEAL OF TIRES ON ASPHALT) and he had to winch the chopper out of the trout pond (RATCHET, SUCKING OF MUD) and he had to rebuild the fence (SAW, HAMMERING) and he had to sit down with Lars and have Lars talk through his feelings. (TR SWEDISH) Which it's hard to tell, with Swedes. You know. And then the censors came down on him.
TK: About the kittycat.

GK: And anyway, it was weeks before things got back to normal on the farm, and that's why I'm always surprised to see him.
TK: I love this show.
GK: It's not that we don't treat him well, we do, we've lavished all sorts of privileges on him. A huge dressing room with marble floors (FOOTSTEPS ON MARBLE) and a private steam room (SFX) and a wine cellar with the 1988 Grand Marais (CORK OPEN, POP) that Tom is especially fond of (POURING) and a lava lamp (OILY BUBBLES) and a mister to mist his throat (MIST, TK VOCAL WARMUP) and a big friendly dog (WOOFS, COLLAR JINGLE) and a regulation ping-pong table (PING PONG) where Tom and Lars enjoy a game before the show (PING PONG CONTINUES, THEN NET. TR SWEDISH) and he was in a ferocious match (PING PONG) and there was a tremendous volley that went on and on, and then suddenly Tom was called to the stage and that's when he did the heavy breathing that our censors felt was inappropriate for young children.

Anyway, it's good to see him.

© Garrison Keillor 2001